Friday, February 19, 2010

Chaz Bono Denounced at Magnet’s Smack Dab

TrashCanPoet, aka Gabriel Burke with his poetry book "Bloom"

Smack Dab, the monthly open mic show at Magnet, the Castro’s cultural and medical center, featured the TrashCanPoet, aka Gabriel Burke, on Feb. 17. Magnet has been providing medical services for seven years and operates on the core value that gay men have a right to health and well-being, and that they should expect empowerment.

The shows are coordinated by’s Larry-bob Roberts and writer Kirk Read, and there is an unusual and unpredictable mixture of music, comedy, spoken word, and more with all genders and ages welcome.

Roberts promotes idealist cultural activism, visionary independent music, and altruistic electoral politics. His highly regarded website has an extensive list of Queer Things to Do in San Francisco, and it is not unusual to hear the community’s marginalized event promoters emote “I love Larry-bob!” because he stresses diversity. Robert’s exacting webzine presents hilarious satire, which he calls ranting foaming at the mouth. Some of his impudent jeers: boring mainstream homos’ websites with zero content, zines that do not get past issue #1, bland gay magazines, skinny body obsession, guys who beg for boyfriends online, and businesses that profit from death.

Kirk Read is the restless author of two books, and he also coordinates performances at Kvetch. He produced Smegma at the Eros sex club, worked at the St. James Infirmary sex worker clinic, and produced a stupendous sex worker variety show at Mama Calizo’s Voice Factory.

Featured performer TrashCanPoet, aka Gabriel Burke, is a beguiling high-level slam poet, writer, and spoken-word activist. He has been in the Bay Area for three years, and is welcomed as an honorary queer boy with the Queer Girl Theatre Project and contributed to Artists Against Rape. He has also been featured at the venues Heavy Rotation, SF Queer Open Mic, and the Berkeley Poetry Slam. Burke’s first book is “Bloom” and he is working on a second book of poetry.

Burke raised the room temperature considerably when he yelled out his “Open Letter to Chaz Bono.” The provocative message was that Bono should shut up and not presume to speak for underprivileged and less-than-famous transgenders. The names of Brandon Teena and Gwen Araujo, who were murdered for being open about who they are, were invoked and Bono was warned that interviewers are patronizing him and treating him as a curiosity. He said that many transgenders are attacked, thrown out of school, and forced into sex work — which is not the world that Bono is experiencing. Burke wants transgenders to feel safe in their living spaces, to be able to afford gender reassignments if they want them, and he wants Bono to shut up and listen.

Bob Siedle Khan, Sean O’Driscoll, Mark Abramson, Jeffrey Lilly, Ed Wolf, and Michael Evans also made memorable contributions to the evening’s entertainment, with satisfying ambiguous moments at odds with sheer bewilderment.

For more information on Smack Dab, contact Kirk Read at

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